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A bird in the hand (21/02/12)
Last week pupils at Lochinver Primary School teamed up with The Highland Council Ranger Service, the local RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) staff and the Highland Ringing Group to get a closer look at some of our local birds.
The children had been studying birds with The Highland Council’s Senior Ranger for the North Highlands , Andy Summers. They had been putting out peanuts and seeds in the playground for several weeks and a great number of birds had started to arrive. All the birds were observed from a safe distance and counted. The results were sent into the RSPB as part of the national Great Garden Bird Watch.
Andy Summers said: “Some of the children said they would like to see the birds closer so we enlisted the help of the RSPB. They came to the school and set up some mist nets in the Culag wood. These are very fine mesh nets that it was almost impossible to see. The nets were set up near some bird feeders and it was not long before we caught our first birds. It was very exciting to see what we had caught.
“Thirty six birds of seven species were caught in just two hours. The commonest birds, as you would expect, were blue tits and chaffinches but we also had coal tits, great tits, green finches and a blackbird. The highlight was a tiny goldcrest, the smallest bird in Britain weighing only five grams. Equally delightful were a number of long-tailed tits. No-one could believe how small they were and how long their tail was. They were all fitted with a beautiful metal ring that would help ornithologists study how long they live and where they go. Then the children were taught how to hold the birds so they could release them back into the wild. One of the children, Mai, told us how she had earlier in the month found a blackbird with a metal ring on its leg, which turned out to be ringed in Stavanger in Norway. I wonder how far these birds will travel.”
All the birds were successfully released unharmed.